Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Increased Disability Ratings & Effect of Medication

In Jones v. Shinseki, docket no. 11-2704 (Vet. App. Oct. 26, 2012), the CAVC held that VA cannot deny a higher disability rating based on “relief provided by medication when those effects are not specifically contemplated by the rating criteria.” In this case, the Board denied a 30% disability rating for the claimant’s irritable bowel syndrome because his symptoms were relieved by medication – even though the effect of medication is not among the criteria for consideration in the relevant diagnostic code. The Court found that the Board committed legal error by doing so, expanding on its prior holdings that VA cannot consider “factors which are wholly outside the rating criteria provided by the regulations.” Jones at *7 (citing Massey v. Brown, 7 Vet.App. 204, 208 (1994)); see also Otero-Castro v. Principi, 16 Vet.App. 375, 382 (2002).

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